Month: May 2016

Real Madrid wins eleventh Champions League title


Real Madrid denied Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final twice in three years, as they defeated their city rivals on penalties at San Siro to be the winners of 2015/16 Champions League winners.

Los Rojiblancos started nervously, and within 34 seconds referee Mark Clattenburg already had to blow on his whistle as Koke delivered a late challenge on Casemiro.

Not much later, another cheap foul allowed Real a Toni Kroos free kick. The German delivers to Bale who heads it further in, and Sergio Ramos makes the first goal with a simple a poke.

But after peep talk and possible reprimanding during the break, Atletico Madrid made a spirited comeback at the second half. They looked focused on the game even as Antoine Griezmann fired a penalty into the woodwork – and the sprints and counters eventually culminated with Yannick Carrasco’s equalizer.

Even Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo had to repeatedly drop back into midfield to help cut out the supply routes to Griezmann and Fernando Torres, while Karim Benzema also typified Real’s work rate by doing his defensive duties.

It was also likely that Atletico boss Diego Simeone wanted to change the game with Carrasco, substituting the offensive player with Augusto Fernandez. It paid off – Carrasco changed the game with his pace, and when a Juanfran cross found him in the six-yard box he jumped right to it and scored.

As he ran off to his girlfriend for a snog at the sidelines, his equalizer made it 1-1 on normal time, and dragged the game into a goalless extra time and subsequently, penalties.

Both teams converted their penalties up until Atletico’s fourth. Juanfran, who played well throughout the 120 minutes of the game, hits the woodwork as his shot went a few inches wide. With Ronaldo next in line, that mistake looked destined to be fatal, and it was.

And with that, Zinedine Zidane became the first person to win the Champions League as a player, an assistant coach and coach. All of those successes were gained alongside Real Madrid too, as the club claimed European dominance once more with undecima – their eleventh European top tier title triumph.

It was indeed regrettable for his city rivals, for less than three weeks ago Atletico looked primed for a double. But having finished three points behind champions Barcelona in Spain, they are left to reflect on what might have been despite an impressive second-half performance at the San Siro.

This may be the third time Atletico have reached the final of the top European tournament and failed to win but their future remains bright.  Given his numerous success Simeone is likely to remain in charge next season despite earlier reported interest from Premier League clubs.

He will also need to be wary with his task of keeping Atletico’s assets, with Griezmann and midfielder Saul having been linked with moves to Chelsea and Manchester United respectively.

Mourinho agrees on Man Utd deal, awaits formal appointment


Jose Mourinho has signed on as manager for Manchester United, and awaits his appointment as the club is expected to make a formal announcement on Friday.

The Portuguese has had fruitful three-day long negotiations alongside his agent Jorge Mendes and top United officials including club executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. The talks concluded with the 53-year-old putting the pen to paper on Thursday.

The talks had went as long as it have due to Mourinho’s image rights ownership, which remained at the hands of his former club, Chelsea. Chelsea registered ‘Jose Mourinho’ and his signature as a European trademark, which means they can use it to sell merchandise.

Although Chelsea could demand demand a six-figure sum from United before any deal is concluded, the issue did not hamper Mourinho’s appointment.

Mourinho’s contract is believed to be the traditional length of three seasons, and the former Chelsea manager had travelled to Manchester for a formal photography session since signing on.

Manchester United fired Louis van Gaal on Monday after just two years of managing Old Trafford, providing Mourinho the opportunity to take over.

He will have a minimum of £150m to spend on players, and he has already discussed transfer targets with the Old Trafford hierarchy with importance placed upon players such as Andre Gomes, John Stones, Alvaro Morata, Mauro Icardi.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is another potential signing but on a free transfer after the striker left Paris Saint-Germain. He had been a keen advocate of Mourinho’s new job, believing that his former coach at Internazionale has what it takes to push United and lead them to compete at the top once more.


Van Gaal sacked as United-Mourinho talks continue


Louis van Gaal was forced end his Manchester United career despite the team’s FA Cup win because his side played poor quality football this season.

In a statement issued along with the announcement that Van Gaal was leaving, the club said: “A decision on a successor as manager will be announced soon,” with Mourinho, 53, and agent Jorge Mendes expected to be in Manchester for talks.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward praised the Dutchman’s “great professionalism and dignity” and thanked him for his “excellent work”.

“He leaves us with a legacy of having given several young players the confidence to show their ability on the highest stage,” Woodward added.

In the 2015/16 season, the Red Devils managed just 49 league goals, finished fifth in the Premier League and were criticized for their lack of offensive plays.

“I am very disappointed to be unable to complete our intended three-year plan,” Dutchman van Gaal, 64, said this after being disengaged.

But he added that “the foundations are firmly in place” to “achieve even greater success”. Under him, United had finished fourth and fifth in his two seasons in charge, missing out on Champions League qualification to arch-rivals Manchester City.

Van Gaal, a former boss at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich had spent more than £250m during his time at Old Trafford, acquiring players including Angel di Maria, Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay.

He also gave debuts to 14 academy graduates, including Jesse Lingard – who scored the winner in Saturday’s FA Cup final, and striker Marcus Rashford – who has netted eight goals since making his debut in February.

Meanwhile, United is continuing their talks to a second day with Mourinho with the Portuguese expected to be installed as manager this week. Mendes is currently in negotiations with Ed Woordward in London.

But there were divided opinions regarding Mourinho’s appointment.

Peter Schmeichel, a legend at United said that the Portuguese “could save” the club and Hull City boss Steve Bruce believing the opportunity to bring in the three-time Premier League champion was “just too good to miss”.

Another legendary player at United – Eric Cantona, disagrees. He believes that his former club should have gone for incoming Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola instead, saying he “loved” Mourinho but that his style of play is “not Manchester United”.

Even then, Jose Mourinho’s track record on youth development was weak – Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku were testament to Mourinho’s lack of faith in youth ability.

De Bruyne was at Chelsea when Mourinho began his second term at Starmford Bridge in June 2013. The Belgian was 21 then, but lasted only half a season before being sold to Wolfsburg for £18m.

But after being voted German footballer of the year for 2014-15, Manchester City paid £55m for him and he was arguably the side’s best player last season.

Mourinho did not have a good track record with youth development; De Bruyne was a case in point.

For this, United’s emerging starlets who were given debuts by Van Gaal and all may ponder what their fate will be under the Dutchman’s successor.